& Clara Breen

I use fragments of found paper reflecting everyday experiences, combined with silver, to create bold strata-like constructions. The forms suggest a ‘personal landscape’, composed of many layers of mundane experiences. I use jewellery techniques to attach these apparently worthless paper items (leaflets, receipts, train tickets…) to silver, therefore expressing their value to me, as tangible remains of a personal experience.

With the ‘Strata’ collection, I am using the same visual language of geological strata, and the same techniques of corrugating metal and riveting. Here I use sterling silver which is sometimes oxidised, held with 9ct gold rivets, and combined with semi-precious stones and freshwater pearls.
The 'Spirals' collection is inspired by natural forms and the forging technique. With the forging process, pieces are allowed to grow into unique spiral forms, sometimes holding freshwater pearls

Necklace, sterling silver and found paper

'Strata' Brooch:  Oxidised silver and 9ct gold pin.

I want to try Reticulating metal...

From her stunning reticulated range of silver jewellery, Emily Morgan has hand crafted this Sterling Silver open bangle that wraps comfortably around the wrist. The reticulated silver is a process which results in a wonderful texture where the surface of the silver has been melted by intense heat. It is a fantastic contemporary design and would be ideal for everyday wear.

This narrow but chunky Sterling Silver ring comes from Emily Morgan's very popular reticulated range of jewellery. The process of reticulation results in a wonderful texture where the surface of the silver has been melted by intense heat. The ring's simple and strong form is complimented by it's unusual texture.

& Transitional Tables

Property : Evolution



& Susan Collis



& Michel Blazy, Decay



Michel Blazy 

At the Artissima art fair last month in Turin, i discovered a new player on the local art scene: the Parco d'Arte Vivente (Park of Living Art).
It all started when i almost fell on my knees in front of an installation by Michel Blazy. The first time i saw his work was at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The installation Post Patman stank, rot, crumbled and formed mushrooms, attracted insects and birds but i love it.
The work on show at Artissima, Le tombeau du poulet aux quatre cuisses (The grave of the four-legged chicken), is a skeleton laying on a bed of earth and surrounded by mushroom. The skeleton looks indeed like the one of a chicken, a giant chicken and as it is made of dog biscuits (made themselves from animal products) will be slowly desintegrating over time.
The PAV was also exhibiting one of Jun Takita's sculpture Jusqu'aux recoins du monde, the sculpture of a brain recovered with bioluminescent algae. For years, the Paris-based artist has been interested in bioluminescence.
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Jusqu'aux recoins du monde
According to traditional classification, photosynthesizing organisms
belong to the plant kingdom. Plants transform light into energy but are not capable of 
bioluminescence --that is, they cannot emit light. Excepting a few species like the dinoflagellates, which belong to both the plant and animal kingdoms, bioluminescence is found in only a few animal species. Biological evolution has not
given rise to an organism that can both consume light as energy and use that energy to create its own light. However, over the last few years, genetic
manipulation has made it possible to create bioluminescent plants. These plants/nonplants artificial organisms transgress the laws of nature.
Light only Light, by Jun Takita. Image Yusuke Komiyama
It is easy to perceive a figure in the landscape within 10° of one's line of sight (the size of the visual field of a fist held out at arm's length). For example, constellations are based on the principle that one reads stars at a distance of up to about 11° from one another as part of a group. Even when we look at the sky, the human hand is the unit of reference for measuring an image. If an object exceeds this 10° visual field, we have to move our eyes in order to perceive it in its entirety. Vision is then constructed by the accretion of several images memorized by the brain. In 1998, the artist started to work on a garden project based on this phenomenon.
On the left, portrait of Jun Takita
The elevated garden is to be situated on top of a building in Tokyo. As Tokyo is a very polluted city, it is not unusual to see gardens being grown on the top buildings by inhabitants in order to cool down a bit the temperature of the city.
The central element of Takita's own garden is a mineral sculpture composed of three walls forming a cave and a bush pruned into a hemisphere. The inside of the cave is to be covered with a bioluminescent moss produced with genetic engineering technology. The moss will emit light via photosynthesis. The visitor is led to a viewpoint along the axis of the sculpture, where the bush is framed by the cave. The distance from this point to the bush will permit the eye to perceive the whole installation at once.
The visitor is invited to discover a visual experience made possible through genetic engineering. During the day, the light of the sun is much stronger than the one emitted through bioluminescence, therefore the form of the bush will be lit by the sun, and its shape will serve to distinguish it from a dark background. After sunset the opposite happens: the bioluminescent background will be broken up by the silhouette of the bush, forming a negative figure (via Takita'spaper and the notes i took during the artist's presentation during the round table, titled Places and creative processes of the living arts, and organized by theParco d'Arte Vivente at artissima).
One of Jun Takita's works will be part of sk-interfaces which opens at FACT(Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) in Liverpool on 01 February until 30 March 2008.
Last week i went to the temporary headquarters of the PAV to check out their exhibition Living Materials. It closed yesterday but will be traveling to Austria. I do not have the details about that second show yet. But when i do, i'll let you know because Living Materials is a very charming exhibition.
Every work presented involves the public in a timed process cadenced by the cyclic rhythm of biological and ecological phenomena. Life and death are simultaneously present and aesthetically represented in the continuum of procedural works which ask us about the man-nature relationship in the age of biotechnology.
The works on show include Le Poulet and photos of Jun Takita's work but also:
0alemoncelli9.jpgEnnio BertrandThe creator has a master plan (first created in 2003 under the titleLemon Sky and revamped for Living Materials).
An array of hundreds of lemons are pierced with small metal sheets, they are in fact Volta batteries supplied with citrus energy which powers tiny Leds, one every 4 lemons. Originally the lemons looked like the ones you can see on the image above but when i visited the PAV, the lemons were a yummy green as you can see on the image on the right. I actually liked that a lot, in yellow, they were too perfect, too plastic looking, but covered with decay they were more living than ever.
The artist writes: I imagined that the lemons during their "work" of withering and decomposing would give back the sun stored by the tree in his fruits during its productive phase in form of small flares.

I think it's fascinating that a fruit of nature through an electronic device can palpitate for some days. It seems the proof to me of our dependence on the environment, of our tight and deep bond to nature.
The project proposes a reflection on the energetic resources of our planet and re-explores one of the artist's theme of predilection: time. Six months of ripening, several days of life for the work and very short flashes of light, like snapshots of the passing by of time.
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The last work on show is Food Island, by Andrea Caretto & Raffaella Spagna. The complex water system feeds several interconnected little islands containing various natural elements: stones, plants or animals.
A pump dipped in a water container sends water which reaches each island through transparent tubes. The water produced through various natural mechanism or which is not needed by the island is then collected and sent back to the main water container. the whole installation constitutes a kind of hypertextual narration which explains phenomena of growth and transformation of the material, from inorganic to organic and vice-versa.

& Timorous Beasties

Fabric Collections


Wallpaper Collections 



& Bug Reactions, Etsuko Maesaki

Insects are always a huge hit in interactive installation. The creepier (everyone's favourite being the cockroach), the better.
Bug???, by Etsuko Maesaki, stars real bugs and artificial bugs manipulated by humans. By interfering and interacting with each other they communicate. In a small natural environment, the artist released real bugs such as cockroaches and projected computer images into the box, so that it looks as if artificial bugs are moving around in the box as well.
Some of the real bugs like shade and try to hide from the light, while others are attracted to it. Visitors can create shade or direct light at the real insects to make them move around in the box. At the same time, the computer generated bugs move around like real bugs reacting both to the movement of the real bugs and the actions of the user.

& Insect Art Exhibitions

Charles Saatchi is to open his new gallery with miniature skeletons and dead insects.
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Tessa Farmer's Swarm (second image) features fake tiny human skeletons, complete with wings, perched on the back of a dead dragonfly. Farmer uses tree roots to make the skeletons of "evil fairies", which each have three fingers and four toes.
Via Londonist BBC NewsPDF essay on Farmer. Image 1 and 2.
Another forthcoming insect art show in London:
We are THEM!, by Mark Hatter, zooms in on the microcosm of the Black Garden Ant world: observing, training and eventually manipulating its inhabitants for his own purposes.
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Worker watching TV and Worker pole-dancing.
Mark has spent the last two years closely studying the insects and has developed a series of training tools, including specialist camera armature, "stage sets" to provide the ants with challenges and stimuli, modifying their behavior and teaching new skills, and systems of communication such as chemical stimuli and ant-signage. As well as being a spectacle in the manner of a Victorian Flea Circus, the project is a commentary on current research in the field of nano-technology and an homage to monster movies such as as THEM! (1954) and Phase IV (1974).
To date, We are THEM! includes a manifesto video presentation and show reel of the ants progress. Beyond the training phase, ants will be re-introduced into their natural environment, where the consequences of their modified behaviour will be documented.
Ultimately, We are THEM! will culminate in the realisation of a plan for World Domination. Partners and funding are being sought for this final phase.
Streaming movie of ant training at the bottom of this page.
We are THEM! has been short-listed for "Best Video or Electronic work" and "Best Student Work", at the inaugural show of Vision 05: Art by Architects.
The work will be shown at the Werst Gallery in early 2006. We are THEM! will also be available for viewing online (currently under construction).

& Jennifer Angus, A Terrible Beauty

In A Terrible BeautyJennifer Angus reflects upon the warmth and comforts of home, travel, storytelling, and the human compulsion to form collections and to induce order where the potential for disorder is overwhelming.
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Her installation at the Textile Museum in Toronto consists of some 15,000 tropical insects pinned to the walls in elaborate wallpaper designs. One of the a printed wallpaper pattern is based on 18th-century toile de Jouy textiles, where bugs enact playful pastoral scenes.
Gallery of images.


The Victorian era was a time of excitement. It was the age of travel, exploration, scientific discovery and the dawning of photography. Both adults and children were introduced to the natural world through a large number of educational publications in which various species of wildlife from insects to elephants were anthropomorphized so as to have greater appeal to the general reading public. Voracious collecting of all manner of plant and wildlife was extremely popular at that time. In my mind, the elephant's foot umbrella stand is the quintessential object that defines the era, for it is exotic yet grotesque. For the insatiable Victorian collector nothing was sacrosanct. In the heyday of collecting, the prestige of a large collection and the finest and most unusual specimens was enormous. While men of science worked in the field collecting, the wealthy sponsored expeditions and were great accumulators.Yet a strange contradiction existed, for as enthusiastic as the public was about Sir Richard Burton's discovery of the source of Nile and other exotic exploits, they were also captivated by the idea of and belief in fairies. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories and surely a master of logic, was a proponent of the existence of fairies. The publishing of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species in 1848 was embraced by Victorian anthropologists, for they interpreted it as an explanation of fairies as a separate and savage race
A Terrible Beauty embraces a world of science and fantasy. Three of the rooms in this exhibition are inspired by travel destinations of significance during the Victorian era. In particular, textiles from these regions have inspired the patterns which adorn the walls. Japan only opened to the West in the 1850's. Its art and culture were highly regarded by the British, and Japonisme refers to the influence this country had upon artists, designers and architects as the Art Nouveau style developed. Aubrey Beardsley is perhaps the best known of artists whose work was influenced by Japanese block prints.
The British populace had long been intrigued by ancient Egypt and what was broadly known as the Orient. Many writers and artists of the Victorian era travelled to Cairo's slave market, documenting it in various works. In 1860, the Suez Canal opened to great ceremony and in particular inspired a craze for Egyptian inspired jewellery. The scarab beetle, an ancient symbol of rebirth and afterlife, was a popular motif. When Howard Carter discovered King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922, another Egyptian revival period was set off.
India was the "jewel in the crown" of the British empire. The East India Company developed trade, and military officers and associated personnel were posted there bringing along their families including children. An indelible impression was made upon both countries as Indian government and bureaucracy developed along British models and Indian products, particularly tea and textiles gained popularity in Britain. British writer Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay in 1865. For many, his writings glorified British rule and exoticized India, although he is perhaps best known for his children's story "The Jungle Book".
Children's literature was in fact born in the Victorian period, for at this time the notion of childhood as a special and prized time was born. Until then, children were considered small persons who as soon as they were old enough, were given chores and put to labour. It was only the very wealthy who went to school or had tutors. Thus beginning in the 1830's, literature expressly written for children produced some of the greatest children's books and fairy tales including Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland. The Butterflies Ball and The Grasshoppers Feast by William Roscoe is considered the first story ever written for children in the English language which was not a moral tale or fable. The connection to childhood and fantasy is an important component of A Terrible Beauty. Perhaps you have walked on a warm summer evening and seen fireflies dancing in the sky. There is something magical about the sight, and one wishes one could be part of the festivities and the mystery. Scattered throughout the exhibition are Victorian era poems with insect themes engraved upon beetles and placed in curio boxes.
Upon one wall of the final room, spelled out in beetles, is an excerpt from Alice Through the Looking Glass in which Alice has a very nonsensical discussion with a gnat. This space is not inspired by place, but by the Victorian enthusiasm for flowers and what is known as "flower language". Victorians used flowers as a complex, symbolic code to convey their feelings. For example, a Chrysanthemum was a sign of cheerfulness, a daisy of innocence and a daffodil of respect. In a similar fashion, I draw upon pattern, for my work is dependent upon the supposition that there is a cultural understanding of pattern. That understanding provides the framework for a narrative. It is pattern that tells the tale of travel, adventure and perhaps magic!

& Army of Cyber Insects?

DARPA is calling for for bids on a project to create an army of cyber-insects that can be remotely controlled to check out explosives and send transmissions.
Micro-systems would be inserted at the pupa stage, when the insects -such as dragonflies and moths- can integrate them into their body, so they can be remotely controlled later or sense certain chemicals, including those in explosives.

The invasive surgery could "enable assembly-line like fabrication of hybrid insect-Mems interfaces
", Darpa says.
A winning bidder would have to deliver "an insect within five metres of a specific target located 100 metres away".
The "insect-cyborg" must also "be able to transmit data from relevant sensors, yielding information about the local environment. These sensors can include gas sensors, microphones, video, etc."
Entomology expert Dr George McGavin of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History said the idea appeared "ludicrous". "What adult insects want to do is basically reproduce and lay eggs. You would have to rewire the entire brain patterns."
Darpa's previous experiments to get bees and wasps to detect the smell of explosives foundered when their "instinctive behaviours for feeding and mating... prevented them from performing reliably", it said.
BBC news has also a selection of projects using animals in warfare:
A monkey test subject being experimented on for safety equipment that was being tailored for fighter pilots.
WWII: Attach a bomb to a cat and drop it from a dive-bomber on to Nazi ships. The cat, hating water, will "wrangle" itself on to enemy ship's deck. In tests cats became unconscious in mid-air.
WWII: Attach incendiaries to bats. Induce hibernation and drop them from planes. They wake up, fly into factories etc and blow up. Failed to wake from hibernation and fell to death
Navy personnel training a dolphin for sabotage duties.
Vietnam War: Dolphins trained to tear off diving gear of Vietcong divers and drag them to interrogation, sources linked to the programme say. Syringes later placed on dolphin flippers to inject carbon dioxide into divers, who explode. US Navy has always denied using mammals to harm humans.

& Playing Pac-Man against Real Crickets

As a graduation project for his master in Mediatechnology at Leiden University, Wim van Eck has developed a game in which you play PacMan against crickets. The goal of Animal Controlled Computer Games: Playing Pac-Man against Real Crickets was to center the action in a computer game around the unpredictability of an animal. Is it possible to replace computer code with animal behaviour? Can a person play against an animal in a computer game? He built a maze for the insects to walk around in, with its proportions and layout matching the maze of the computer game. The position of the animals in the maze is detected using colour-tracking via a camera, and linked to the ghosts in the game. This way, the real animals are directly controlling the virtual ghosts.
After having inspected the maze individually the crikets are likely to find a place to group together. This enables Pac-Man to eat most of the dots but prevents the hero to eat the dots on the place where they sit, preventing the player from finishing the level.
In contrast to the fixed speed of the original Pac-Man ghosts, the movement of the crickets is unpredictable. Their speed also depends on the temperature inside of the box,. Wim and his team could change the speed of the crickets by altering the temperature in the box, this way having different difficulty levels.
To make the game more intelligent, they had the animals react to vibrations. In nature, vibration of the ground warns crickets for an approaching predator. So the researchers divided the floor of the maze into six parts, each with a motor attached underneath that vibrates when switched on. When the crickets should chase Pac-Man, the motors were switched furthest away from his location in the maze, so the crickets will flee in his direction. When Pac-Man eats a power-up, the crickets are supposed to run away from him, so we then vibrate the part of the floor that contains Pac-Man’s position.
Movies on the website.

& Insect Collecting Pants

A stunning pair of cow pants brought back from a 1937 issue of Popular Science by Modern Mechanix. The cattle trousers are used to collect specimens of ticks and other insects. These are sent to laboratories where extensive research is being made into the best methods for combating the unsanitary and annoying insect pests.